The Main Types of Proxy Server Protocols

Proxy servers are a great tool for anyone with work to do on the internet. Keeping your data secure and being able to browse the internet anonymously should be a high priority for everyone.

From the security they can offer to the ease of data mining, proxies are brilliant platforms that allow you to work more and stress less. Below, we’ll explore several types of data transmission protocols – a key source of these proxying benefits.

What is a protocol?

Generally, a protocol is a set of rules. Merriam-Webster defines protocols in computing as “conventions governing the treatment and especially the formatting of data in an electronic communications system.” On the internet, the highway for proxied data transmission, protocols spell out essential traffic rules such as size of data packets, destination management, and data security. Industry groups, international associations, and government are the main contributors to these preset conventions.

SOCKS proxy server

The SOCKS protocol (short for “Socket Secure”) is commonly used to transmit data between client (e.g., your computer) and server (usually a website) through a proxy, which shields your computer’s identity.

Within the SOCKS context, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) collects and reassembles packets of transmitted data, while the Internet Protocol (IP) ensures that data reaches its intended network. It’s these two protocols that enable digital devices to communicate over long distances.

Of two versions widely used today, SOCKS4 handles client/server transmission efficiently, but without authentication, so that it wouldn’t be appropriate in projects that involve – among other examples – gaming sites or Skype. SOCKS5, the more recent version, can handle voice and video, and supports advanced authentication methods.

HTTP proxy server

The HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) proxy, built expressly for proxying web requests, is usually the best choice for accessing http:// or https:// addresses. This widely used protocol is supported by all browsers and most http client software. It also supports SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – a connection that encrypts data transmissions to keep outsiders from “listening in.” SSL is also widely used for unencrypted connections.

Some mobile browsers and many company intranets use HTTP proxies to cache a user’s most visited websites. With caching, frequently used data is stored in memory. That means it can load to your screen a lot faster than if it had to be fetched from a remote site, or by an application, every time it’s needed. Because this feature speeds proxy requests, HTTP proxies are often used for browsing web pages, viewing images, downloading files, and scraping content.

FTP proxy server

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a client/server protocol for moving files to or from a host computer. The Anonymous version of FTP – activated simply by entering “anonymous” as a user ID – gives you access to files from the Internet without requiring a user ID or password.

SSL proxy server

“SSL” stands for Secure Sockets Layer. The “S” in HTTPS also stands for “Secure.” HTTPS combines HTTP and SSL/TLS (Transport Layer Security). As HTTP is a “layer” in data transmission structure, so SSL (or HTTPS) is an additional layer below it, enabling a proxy to transfer data securely and anonymously between client and server. The SSL layer encrypts your data against access by third parties, including your internet service provider.

Keep yourself secure online

Every time you go online, for leisurely browsing or for business purposes, there is a risk that your personal data can be intercepted. From credit card information or passwords, to general browsing activities, your data could be easily picked up if it weren’t for the security of the protocols we’ve discussed

But a good proxy server, using these protocols in the right combinations, is a sure way for you to use the internet securely and anonymously, keeping those nosy hackers at bay. And in today’s world of sophisticated cybercriminals, having good security on your computer is just as important as the physical security measures in your home.


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